Monday, 11 May 2015

Armageddon in Italia I

What’s in the photo above ? A missile silo in the Middle East ? A nuclear bunker in the former East Germany ? A farm storage unit that won architectural awards in the misguided 1970’s ?
It is in fact one of the more unusual venues visited by TSOM over the years, the site of one of the dates on the Armageddon tour in Spring 1985 which followed the departure of Gary Marx and preceded the Albert Hall gig. European readers will doubtless have instantly recognised the building in the photo as an out-of-town disco, deliberately situated miles from the nearest housing and endowed with a car park large enough to cope with the swollen ranks of weekend revellers, who could enjoy themselves in the wee small hours without having to disturb local residents, before (presumably) drink-driving back into town.
The Puntacapo club near the village of Budrio outside Bologna was one such club (and is of course the one featured in the pictures), and an enterprising promoter hit upon the idea of hosting gigs there in the early 80s ; before TSOM’s visit on 30th April 1985, bands as diverse as The Sound and Bauhaus had drawn decent crowds to the isolated venue, exploiting the success amongst northern Italian youth of the nascent dark wave sound.
Thanks to the excellent Italian blog “Sniffin’ Glucose”, we can relieve those heady positive punk days, and the entry about the Puntacapo even contains this review about TSOM’s evening under the silver dome, with the reviewer going overboard in his praise of the Sisters’ Dantesque vision, whilst noting the appreciative but unusually quiet and reverential reaction of the large, young crowd (if my rusty Italian is to be believed).
Eagle-eyed readers may have noted a word painted in yellow near the entrance to the club on the Google Streetview images shamelessly displayed above, a reference to the venue’s more recent incarnation, the Palomar Land Disco. Although it looks entirely derelict on the photo and therefore one might assume defunct, this is in fact the default daytime appearance of the typical Euro club, and I would imagine that then as now it would look suitably impressive with clever night-time lighting to its young patrons.
Although what became the gothic scene enjoyed huge popularity in Italy, TSOM rarely returned to there on future European tours bar the odd date in Milan for example, and Bologna itself had to wait until 2009 for its only return visit, when the band played the Estragon club, more typically situated on an industrial estate near the ring-road, to a small crowd estimated by Heartland Forum members to be only 500 strong in a venue that can hold four times the number.

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